Kansas News

New Girls on the Block Series to shine a spotlight on KC transgender community

NewGirlsontheBlock1By Ciara Reid | Photo by Dan Brennan

IN 2005, A FILM STARRING Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman was released. Transamerica tells the story of a transgender woman, Bree (played by Huffman) who goes on a road trip with her estranged son. Huffman won the Oscar for Best Actress, and the film garnered critical praise and several awards. Yet, the public’s knowledge, understanding, and acceptance of the transgender community remained minimal at that time.


Village People part of lineup at Riverfest 2015

Riverfest2015-AdultButtonButton price goes up for the first time since 2006

WICHITA - Wichita Festivals, Inc. revealed the artwork for Riverfest 2015 and offered a sneak peek at the upcoming festival at a press event at Emprise Bank, sponsor of the 2015 artwork contest.

    Wichita-based artist Roger Strunk won this year’s button and poster artwork competition with his interpretation of Admiral Windwagon Smith as an astronaut with the Wichita skyline in the background to capture this year’s theme, “Button Up. Have a Blast!”


Spoken-word artist brings youth outreach project to Wichita

PandoraScooterWICHITA - New Jersey artist Pandora Scooter has decided to reach out to some of the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community -- LGBTQ youth. LGB youth are two times more likely than their heterosexual peers to attempt suicide, and roughly 25% of transgender youth attempt suicide, according to a Centers for Disease Control report. In addition, LGBTQ youth are more likely to experience violence and victimization due to their sexuality or gender identity.

    Not much has been done to directly address the problem besides scattered nonprofits and hotlines. This is why Scooter has decided to take the matter into her own hands and travel across the country, talking to these youth about suicide and a way out.


Gender and Sexuality in Kansas Conference back at Wichita State

RobinOchs-authorBy Elle Boatman

WICHITA - WSU’s Sociology Department, the SOC Club, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion are proud to present the second annual Gender and Sexuality in Kansas Conference and are expecting an even larger turnout, thanks in part to positive word-of-mouth from last year’s attendees.

    The inaugural conference boasted over 80 registered attendees with a 100+ headcount at the keynote address presented by Indiana University South Bend’s Betsy Lucal, author of the iconic What It Means to Be Gendered Me.


Seven-part KU program examines politics on a personal level

By Ciara Reid, staff reporter

LaSalviaLAWRENCE - Jimmy LaSalvia, a Dole Fellow at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas, is leading a seven-part program titled “All Politics is Personal: a Gay Conservative Looks at the Culture Wars.” The program meets on Wednesday afternoons beginning Feb. 18 and is free and open to the public. Each week’s program will begin at 4pm at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics and will last approximately an hour and a half.

    LaSalvia is no stranger to the personal aspect of politics. “Having spent my career working at the intersection of culture and politics as an openly gay conservative in the trenches of the culture wars, I have unique experience in this area,” he says.


Oldest gay bar in Kansas closes its doors

closed-for-businessBy Kristi Parker

WICHITA - “At this time the business is closed and the property is up for sale,” Kelley Hoffman, co-owner of the Fantasy Complex said.  Since 1981 the Fantasy has been a mainstay is Wichita’s LGBT community.

    Linn Copeland, who first opened the bar, provided a safe gathering space for everyone to enjoy. From drag shows, to a high-energy dance floor, to the attached South Forty country bar and The Harbor restaurant it seemed like there was a place for everyone.


Kansas Interests

Theatre Thursdays set to provoke at Fisch Haus in March

FischHausWICHITA - Wichita audiences will have a chance to catch a provocative, contemporary theatre production every Thursday night in March at 8pm at Fisch Haus, 524 S. Commerce.

    The lineup includes Cock by Mike Bartlett on Mar. 5, Oleanna by David Mamet on Mar. 12, The Mercy Seat by Neil Labute on Mar. 19, and Offending the Audience by Peter Handke on Mar. 26. Tickets are $10. Shows are one night only, but each will offer a special “preview” night on the Wednesday before opening.  

    Inspired by the success of Jazz Tuesdays at Fisch Haus, Fisch Bowl, Inc., the non-profit board for Fisch Haus, decided to attempt a similar series with theatre. This year’s theme for Theatre Thursdays is “provocation” as each play forces the audience to grapple with a personal understanding of sexual identity, gender bias, selfishness in times of tragedy, and the nature of theatre itself.


Fit for a Queen has clothes for all kinds of queens

Fit-for-a-QueenWICHITA - A resale clothing store at 2817 E. Central has been providing size 14 and over clothing for about two years. Fit for a Queen, owned and operated by Pia Schwamman, carries a large selection of fashion items to choose from.

    The store has hats, dresses, accessories, shoes, and even a small section for large men’s clothing. Not only does Schwamman sell clothing, but she also works with Wichita colleges to supply costumes for play productions, as well as working with others to bring in unique and hard to find fashion items - like hats dating from the 60s and on.


A Word of Gratitude

GregBoaldinby Greg Boaldin

The outpouring of support for my film Will You Take This Man? has been so gratifying. Everyone involved in the film was so excited by last month’s cover and the beautiful article written by Ciara Reid.  

    Some of the response has been enthusiasm for positive messages depicting the lives of gay men in Kansas. This is especially striking a chord in light of Gov. Brownback’s recent backward moves.

    To everyone who has sent messages, gone to our Facebook page and liked it, or approached me on the street to comment how excited they are about the project - thank you. If you missed the article, be sure to check out the archive.


New student support group at WSU

WSUMascotWICHITA - Are you part of the Wichita State LGBTQ student community? If so, you might benefit from a new support group that started Feb. 17.

    The group can help students dealing with issues anywhere along a continuum - from the point of questioning sexuality to dealing with the challenges of coming out or struggling with relationship issues. 

    The group meets from 4-5:15pm every Tuesday in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, RSC 208. For more information contact Dr. Meladee Garst of the Counseling and Testing Center at 316-978-3440.


Heartland Men’s Chorus presents Modern Families


KANSAS CITY - Another groundbreaking musical documentary from Heartland Men’s Chorus celebrates the changing face of American families - families of origin and families of choice. Stories from chorus members weave together songs of love, acceptance and community, including Not My Father’s Son from Kinky Boots and the audience favorite, In My Mother’s Eyes.

    The Lawrence Children’s Choir joins in for this uplifting celebration of family. Show times are Saturday, Mar. 28 at 8pm and Sunday, Mar. 29 at 4pm at the Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St., Kansas City, Missouri. Tickets are $15-$40, available at hmckc.org or (816) 931-3338.



Topeka poet releases new book

AnnetteBillings-book-signingBy Sue Edgerton

TOPEKA - Just hours after celebrating her retirement from 39 years of nursing with coworkers, friends, and family on Feb. 6, Topeka poet, Annette Hope Billings settled into a comfy chair at Oddfellow’s Fine Books and Collectables, 117 SW 6th Ave., in Topeka. She took up a pen filled and overflowing with love, gratitude, and blessings and went to work autographing copies of her recently published book of poetry A Net Full of Hope.

    This ‘inaugural‘ book-signing coincided with Topeka’s First Friday Art Walk. It was, for Billings, “an utterly amazing experience.”


Best of Gay Wichita Winners

Best of Gay Wichita 2015 Winners

Liberty Press Best of Gay Wichita-WinnerThank you to everyone who voted in this year’s Best of Gay Wichita Awards! It was a great success with the most votes yet in our three years of awards.

    Again there were categories that we decided not to award because there were too many nominees. Those categories were: Theme Night, Mixed Drink, Realtor, Attorney, Business Person, and Therapist/Psychologist.

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners!


Brett Fleming, Rain

Place to Grab a Beer
J’s Lounge
513 E. Central

“Thank you, Wichita, for another great year at J’s Lounge. We are approaching 13 years of business. We are excited for the new year and the new changes at J so keep coming by the best gay bar in Wichita for the best service and drinks and a good time with your friends and family. Thank you once again.” --Russell

Place to Meet Women
The Store
3210 E. Osie
(316) 683-9781

Place to Meet Men and Overall Bar
Rain Café & Lounge
518 E. Douglas

Gay-Friendly Restaurant or Coffeeshop
Espresso To Go Go  |  Disco, 102 N. St. Francis  |  Unicorn, 120 E. 1st St.

“All of us at Espresso To Go Go are so proud to receive this award! It has been our goal to create an environment that is filled with all the love and joy that we have in our hearts as a beautiful refuge from the tired old bullshit that can bring a mofo down! The disco balls and unicorns that inhabit our stores symbolize the carefree, whimsical and joyful life filled with fun that we wish for ourselves and all of our patrons. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!”

Local DJ
CJ Vers, Fantasy Complex

“I would like to say thank you to the Liberty Press for putting on these awards. I would also like to say thank you to the people that voted for me and a special thanks to Kelly Hoffman and Michael Kasselman for allowing me to do what I love. I look forward to the future of Wichita’s gay community and look forward to continuing to DJ for this community. “

Live Theater
Mosley St. Melodrama
234 N. Mosley

“Thank you, Wichita, for honoring Mosley Street Melodrama as 2015’s BEST LIVE THEATRE! This is our 17th season and we very much appreciate the support that the LGBT community has given us through the years. We take great pride in being a destination that welcomes people from all walks of life and makes them feel appreciated and comfortable. Thanks again and stay proud of who you are!”

Massage Therapist
Joshua Pfister and Brad Thomison, Light and Sound Spa
1157 N. Piatt Ave.

“Brad and Josh are honored to be selected as the Best Massage Therapists for 3 years in a row. We work hard to bring high quality, professional services to our community and we are proud to serve you! Thank you to all of our friends, clients, and family members who have helped make our business a success, and to everyone who nominated us for this award. Also, thanks to the Liberty Press for showcasing LGBT businesses and individuals who help make our community great. “

Hair Stylist
Danny Jimenez, Tangled Up Salon
2900 E. Douglas
(316) 613-3434

“Thank you for all the support and votes for this year’s best hair stylist of gay Wichita! I’d like to thank the Liberty Press for sponsoring the awards, and for showing Wichita all the professions and talent that our community has to offer. I am a Wichita native, and am proud to be a part of it. “  --Danny Jimenez

Dance Floor
Fantasy Complex

 “Our Fantasy DJ staff/light and sound crew wants to give a big shout out and thank you to everyone that makes the dance floor important . . . and that’s YOU!! We appreciate your patronage and helping make us your favorite dance floor!”
--Michael Kasselman, C.J. Dwyer, Chuck Fletcher

Other Business
Steve’s Jams and Jellies

“Steve’s Jams and Jellies is honored to be selected as recipient of 2015 Best of Gay Wichita’s Best Other Business! Since we started our business about 18 months ago, we pride ourselves in providing over 80 homemade unique and unusual jams and jellies in the Wichita market. The acceptance of Wichita of our product is totally awesome! Look for us at Kansas Grown Farmers Markets April through October and at our online store (Stevesjams.com). Again, Thank You for your support!”
--Steve & Ken


National News

Extralegal Ruling Shames Alabama Supreme Court

Alabama Supreme Court “does not have the authority to interfere with a federal court order” HRC says

gavel-rainbow2MONTGOMERY—Today, HRC condemned a ruling by the Alabama state Supreme Court ordering a halt to same-sex marriages in the state. In the ruling, the Court granted an emergency petition by two anti-LGBT groups, the Alabama Policy Institute and Alabama Citizens Action Program, who sought to stop probate judges from issuing marriage licenses across the state.

The order, which has no foundation in constitutional law, flies in the face a prevailing federal ruling by Judge Callie V.S. Granade issued weeks ago.


Openly Gay Man Appointed as Chief of Staff for the Secretary of Defense

eric-fanningThe nation's largest organization of LGBT military families applauds the appointment of Eric Fanning as the Secretary's Chief of Staff

WASHINGTON, DC - The American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation’s largest organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) military families, released the following statement today in response to Eric Fanning's appointment as the Chief of Staff for the Secretary of Defense.

"We are thrilled to see Fanning's appointment because of his experience first and foremost," said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. "Knowing that he's an openly gay man in such an important role is a milestone and a sign of how far we've come, especially when only a few years ago LGB service members could not serve openly."


Kate Brown To Be The Nation’s First Sitting Openly LGBT Governor

Kate-Brown OregonWASHINGTON - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, responded to the news that Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber will resign effective Wednesday, February 18, and be replaced  by Secretary of State Kate Brown, who is openly bisexual. HRC President Chad Griffin issued the following statement:

“Few are better prepared to lead the great state of Oregon than Kate Brown. She's a known commodity to Oregonians with a distinguished record of service of over two decades. And while she'll make history as the nation's first sitting LGBT governor, the more important truth is that she's supremely capable of leading the state to better days ahead.”


New Poll Shows Record Support for Marriage Equality

07-Jun-14 4860 percent of likely voters support marriage equality

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign, (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, released the results from a new national poll commissioned to gauge voter attitudes ahead of a Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality. The survey showed support for marriage equality continues to expand and that there is virtually no public support for the opponents of marriage equality who have encouraged the public to resist a Supreme Court ruling -- even among voters who oppose marriage equality.


Judge Granade Sends Clear Message: Probate Judges Should Start Issuing Marriage Licenses Immediately

06-Oct-14 126Federal judge issues order in favor of same-sex couples in Mobile, compelling county’s probate judge who had refused to issue marriage licenses

MONTGOMERY—In a federal court hearing in Mobile today, U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade issued an order in favor of several same-sex couples—represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, ACLU of Alabama, and private counsel—who tried unsuccessfully to get married in the city earlier this week. Probate Judge Don Davis, who has refused to issue licenses to any couples since Monday, was cited by Granade for failing to follow the law.


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